Brook trout conservation, new research

This December 2015 video from North America says about itself:

Brook Trout in ULTRA HD 4k (Salvelinus fontinalis): Under Water Spawning and Life Cycle

– In the last three months of the year, mature brook trout, aged 2 to 5 years, make their way to suitable spawning locations.

– Brook trout seek out very specific areas to deposit their eggs.

– Brook trout will key in on gravelly or sandy areas of lake bottoms, creeks, or rivers. In lakes where current is not present, brook trout will find upwelling springs that will serve to aerate the eggs.

– Brook trout are a highly sensitive fish species. Only lakes, creeks, and river systems unaffected by pollution and acid rain, with high oxygen content and cool temperatures, offered by up-welling springs or current, will successfully harbour populations of brook trout.

– The underwater footage of fish spawning in this video was taken in early December at the base of a long white water run.

– Once the females have located suitable spawning habitat, she will use her tail fin to excavate a shallow depression called a “redd” which will serve as a nest for the eggs.

– The debris that is turned up is carried downstream by the current.

– The female will check the depth and thus suitability of the nest by lowering herself to the river substrate. She tests it by keeping her pelvic, anal, and caudal fins stiff, to see if they touch the bottom.

– The more brightly coloured male will closely guard the female and position himself so that he can fertilize the eggs once released. The male makes various advances and passes, nudges, and comes alongside the female so that their bodies touch in order to stimulate her to release her eggs.

– When the female is finally ready to deposit her eggs she will drop her anal fin deeply into the depression and then arch her back. Both the male and female will then open their mouths wide and tremble with rapid undulations of their body as the eggs and milt are simultaneously released.

– As fertilization occurs externally, more than one male might fertilize the same batch of eggs.

– A female may lay between 20 and 5000 eggs depending on her age, overall size, and health. She does not lay her eggs all at once, but instead releases 15 to 60 at a time.

– Eggs must be fertilized within the first 3 minutes, but are most successfully fertilized immediately upon release. Fertilization success rates are often between 80 and 90 percent.

– Eggs are frequently eaten by other fish species or can even be cannibalized by other males in the vicinity. Only about 1 to 2 percent of eggs will survive to adulthood.

– After spawning, the female will cover the eggs by displacing sand and gravel. She does this with a slow-motion sweeping of her tail to gently move gravel over the eggs without touching them. This “postnuptial dance” helps protect the eggs from predators as they develop over the next 3 months.

– The female will aggressively drive off any fish that may come near the redd.

– After spawning has occurred, the male will lose interest in the female and move off in search of another female building a redd. If the male is persistent, he may fertilize the eggs of multiple females.

– The female, on the other hand, will move off a short distance, only to begin cutting a new redd for another batch of eggs.

– After about 2 weeks, the eggs will develop eyes. The eggs absorb oxygen from the water and feed off their yolk sack for nourishment.

– At this stage, it is imperative that water remains between 1 to 13 degrees Celsius. Higher temperatures will destroy the eggs, as will sub-zero temperatures.

– The eggs will hatch sometime between February and March. At this point, they will still feed off their yolk sac and are called fry or alevin (aləvən).

– Once the yolk sac is used up, usually by March or April, the fry will begin eating plankton or microscopic animals found in the lake or stream.

– By the end of the summer, the trout will be 2 to 3 inches long. As they are still quite small, they will spend much of their time hiding under and around rocks, while feeding on small insects and plankton.

– Trout will reach sexual maturity when they are around 5 to 10 inches long.

– The following clips demonstrate various spawning activity. You will see the female digging out a redd, while the male carefully monitors her movements in anticipation of fertilizing her eggs. You will also see males trying to move in and out-compete other males for breeding rights.


From Penn State University in the USA:

Larger streams are critical for wild brook trout conservation

June 3, 2020

The Latin name for brook trout — Salvelinus fontinalis — means “speckled fish of the fountains,” but a new study by Penn State researchers suggests, for the first time, that the larger streams and rivers those fountains, or headwaters, flow into may be just as important to the brook trout.

With few exceptions, brook trout are found now only in small mountain streams that stay cold enough year-round to meet their biological needs, below 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Because these trout in the United States are threatened by a warming climate, many have assumed those headwater habitats alone are critical for their survival.

But a genetic analysis of brook trout in streams across the 460-square-mile Loyalsock Creek drainage in north-central Pennsylvania shows that the fish are very similar genetically, suggesting close relatedness among populations. The only way that could have happened, according to researcher Shannon White, postdoctoral scholar in the College of Agricultural Sciences, is fish moving between tributaries in the 86-mile-long Loyalsock Creek.

Temperatures in Loyalsock Creek exceed brook trout thermal tolerance from approximately June through September, White pointed out, so fish are believed to inhabit only the bigger river system during the winter. Although the behavior and survival of brook trout in Loyalsock Creek are not well understood, researchers hypothesize that some brook trout move into the mainstem after spawning in a tributary in October or November and stay until late spring, when some swim up new tributaries.

“It’s pretty simple — if widespread populations are related genetically, it indicates that fish are moving around between those populations,” she said. “There’s a high degree of genetic connectivity between populations separated by the mainstem, and that indicates that brook trout are swimming into Loyalsock Creek and using it as a movement corridor to connect populations in other tributaries.”

Understanding patterns of population connectivity is critical for species conservation, White added, because populations that are more connected typically are able to survive and adapt to disturbance and stress.

To build what White called “a family tree” of brook trout in the Loyalsock drainage, researchers collected 1,627 adult brook trout from 33 sites, with an average of 49 individuals collected from each site. They clipped the caudal fins of those fish and conducted genetic analysis on those tissue samples.

To estimate statistically how unique habitat features, such as road culverts and waterfalls found in streams, influence the movement of wild brook trout, researchers developed what they call the “bidirectional geneflow in riverscapes” model as part of a practical framework that uses genetic data to understand patterns and drivers of fish movement.

The novel modeling approach is significant, explained researcher Tyler Wagner, adjunct professor of fisheries ecology, because it shows that brook trout — at least in the Loyalsock Creek watershed — are not confined just to the headwaters. They are using the mainstem as a seasonal, thermally suitable corridor for movement.

There is no reason to expect that the Loyalsock drainage is different from others in the East, Wagner contends, so these results likely have implications for the conservation and management of wild brook trout. Specifically, these results suggest that conservation of larger streams and rivers may be necessary to protect and conserve critical brook-trout movement corridors that keep brook trout populations healthy.

“Some of the most fundamental questions in ecology relate to how organisms move through their environment,” said Wagner, who is assistant leader of the U.S. Geological Survey’s Pennsylvania Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at Penn State. “These questions historically have been hard to address in fishes because it can be difficult statistically to estimate how unique habitat features found in streams and rivers influence movement. To address this void, we developed the riverscapes geneflow model.”

The findings of the Penn State study, recently published in Ecological Applications, contrast with other research related to brook trout behavior, White conceded. The consensus has been that trout do not move very far, she said. “But Loyalsock Creek is a fairly big watershed, and we have found that fish are moving quite a bit, and populations on opposite ends of the watershed are connected to one another genetically.”

However, White, who conducted a wide range of research on the brook trout population in the Loyalsock drainage while pursuing her doctoral degree in ecology at Penn State, noted that only a small proportion of the fish travel — and it is not just the young males that branch out. This is different from most wildlife species.

“In a separate study we used telemetry to monitor the movement of 162 fish and found that there is a small proportion of the population that moves,” she said. “It’s only about 20% of fish that get into Loyalsock Creek. In terms of males, females, and the size of fish that are moving, it doesn’t really seem to make a difference. This would suggest that there may be a genetic component to movement, in the sense that some fish have genes that are programmed to make them travel.”

Helping nesting common terns

This 2016 video from the USA says about itself:

The Pennsylvania Game Commission conducted a camera trap survey in June 2016 to monitor common terns attempting to nest at Presque Isle State Park (PISP).

Common Terns have been known to breed in Pennsylvania only in a small area at the east end of PISP. Although they were a fairly common nesting species in the early part of this century, there have been no successful nests since the mid-1960s. The breeding population quickly declined when their nesting area became a popular area for unrestricted swimming. Common Terns attempted to nest again after the long-overdue protection of this valuable ecological site in the mid-1990s. The breeding population has declined throughout the Great Lakes and the Atlantic coastal regions, owing in part to the same problems. … On 1 Jun 1930, Todd visited this site and counted at least 139 nests. In 1931 most nests were destroyed by bathers who walked among and even stepped on the eggs. … Common Terns are listed as Endangered by the Game Commission in Pennsylvania.”

Braining, Daniel W. and Gerald M. McWilliams. 2000. “The Birds of Pennsylvania”. Cornell University Press.

Based on the findings of these camera traps, the Game Commission may choose to try predator exclusion structures to help terns have a successful nesting colony.

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA:

Do you have beachfront property or live near a beach? Our newest addition to our Right Bird, Right House interactive tool is a chick shelter for Common Terns! Nesting shelters are meant to protect chicks from avian predators such as owls and falcons, which commonly prey on tern colonies throughout their breeding range. The plans were provided by James McGarry of Save the River, an organization based at the St. Lawrence River in northern New York. Check out the plans now.

Why songbirds feed other species’ youngsters

Left, eastern bluebird, right tree swallow

From Penn State University in the USA:

Daddy daycare: Why some songbirds care for the ‘wrong’ kids

October 3, 2019

Interspecific feeding — when an adult of one species feeds the young of another — is rare among songbirds, and scientists could only speculate on why it occurs, but now, Penn State researchers have new insight into this behavior.

Like many scientific findings, this comes from pursuing a larger, unrelated question. In this case, whether noise pollution from Marcellus Shale natural gas development is disrupting songbird reproduction and behavior in Pennsylvania’s forests. The researchers conducted this work at Penn State’s Russell E. Larsen Agricultural Research Center.

“There are numerous hypotheses to explain why interspecific feeding behavior might occur, but in most cases observers can only speculate on the cause because they lack information on the nesting histories of the species involved,” said Julian Avery, assistant research professor of wildlife ecology and conservation in the College of Agricultural Sciences. “But in this case, we had much more information.”

For the industrial noise pollution study, researchers placed 80 nest boxes along gravel roads and fields in pairs, with paired boxes slightly more than three feet apart and about 100 yards between pairs. They paired the nest boxes to maximize settlement by Eastern bluebirds and tree swallows, which often are willing to nest in close proximity.

The researchers subjected 20 of the paired boxes to noise that played 24 hours a day from large speakers placed just behind the nest boxes. The sound was recordings of a shale-gas compressor that looped to create continuous noise, loud enough to simulate an active compressor station.

As part of the study, researchers recorded behavioral observations using cameras in the nest boxes. They observed each box once during incubation, once when the nestlings were young and a third time when nestlings were older.

“We crossed our fingers and hoped birds would move into the site to occupy those boxes, and they did in large numbers, so we had a nice experimental treatment between birds nesting in quiet boxes and birds nesting in very noisy boxes,” Avery said. “We’ll be reporting soon on how the industrial noise pollution affected the birds, but first this interspecific feeding component is fascinating.”

Lead researcher Danielle Williams, who received a master’s degree in wildlife and fisheries science in 2018, recorded the number of feeding events at the boxes by each parent in three-hour observations and analyzed the footage. That’s how she learned about the male bluebird repeatedly feeding tree swallow nestlings in Box 34B.

This nest contained four 10-day-old tree swallow nestlings. The second box in the pair, 34A, contained four Eastern bluebird eggs. The bluebird pair occupying box 34A had fledged young from box 34B more than a month before. The tree swallows then took over the box and laid their eggs, forcing the bluebirds to move to box 34A for their second brood.

“We inserted a camera into nest box 34B for an older nestling observation, and during the three-hour observation period, the male Eastern bluebird nesting in box 34A was shown providing food to the tree swallow nestlings 29 times,” Williams said. “When I looked at the video, I realized that there was a bluebird male in there caring for the young.”

The researchers, who noted that many songbirds do not recognize the begging calls or the appearance of their own young, believe the male bluebird, because he had nested in this box earlier in the season, was confused. He made a “place-based decision” to care for the young tree swallows.

“In this case, we think the male — since he was primed to raise nestlings and respond to begging behavior — was duped because he was hearing all of these begging calls and remembered this box,” Avery said. “It’s especially cool because he is going in and out of the box as the female tree swallow does as well.” songbird chicks

The bluebird even perched beside the female tree swallow on the box lid, Avery added.

“You’d think at that point the male bluebird would realize the gig was up,” he said. “He is engaged in very detailed behavior, even picking up and removing the tree swallow chicks’ waste. He doesn’t seem to have a clue.”

The findings, recently published in the Wilson Journal of Ornithology, are important in helping us understand animal behavior, according to Avery.

“With all the other random observations out there of interspecific feeding behavior, observers never had any indication what was driving it,” he said. “With this we do, and we know to what degree the urge to care for young overrides other considerations.”

Margaret Brittingham, professor of wildlife resources and extension wildlife specialist, also was involved in this research.

Penn State’s Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence, the Association of Field Ornithologists and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture funded this study.

Shell workers’ mandatory Trump rally, Dutch comment

This 17 August 2019 video from the USA is called Pittsburgh [Shell] plant workers just revealed they had to go to Trump’s rally or go without pay.

Translated from Stevo Akkerman, in Dutch daily Trouw today:

Royal Dutch Shell, I cannot discover anything royal about it

When thereis talk about Shell abroad, the corporation is always referred to as Royal Dutch Shell. I know that “royal” means little, witness the existence of royal paint materials, tour boats, bicycle brands and brass bands. But still: if Shell lends itself to an Orwellian election show for Donald Trump, it will feel a little bit more rotten because of the Dutch link and the royal halo than if another oil corporation would do so.

Shell forced thousands of employees last week to enthusiastically attend a Trump visit to a petrochemical plant in Pennsylvania. That is, everyone was free to stay at home, we are not talking about North Korea, where cheering for the great leader is a religious duty. In America no one is obliged to worship the president. But Shell did impose a hefty fine on refusal: whoever did not want to be applauding sheeple for Trump had to take a day off, and would therefore not receive a salary. This also canceled the bonus for overtime – a total sacrifice of around 700 dollars.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, which brought this news on Saturday, also reported that the good workers had to clock in at 7 a.m. and then had to wait until after lunch for the president. There were strict rules of conduct: no protests, no shouting, no dissent. So that Trump could claim without blushing or being ashamed that this factory would never have existed without him – in reality it is a legacy from the Obama years. Trump also denounced some Democratic politicians and called on Shell workers to pressure their union leaders to support him. They don’t do that? “Vote them the hell out of office!”

Coincidentally, the president

According to a Shell spokesperson, it was an ordinary training day, except that “the guest speaker happened to be the president.” That is of course possible. Every company gets the guest speaker it deserves. And Trump is the champion of the fossil sector, the man who withdrew his country from the Paris climate agreement; they did not have to be afraid at Shell that they had accidentally brought in a critical speaker. But forgive me if I take Shell’s solemn statements about their sense of social responsibility a little less seriously after this training day.

The company’s international website states the following core values: “Honesty, integrity and respect for people.” These people also like to point out the support for “social, cultural and educational projects in the vicinity of our locations”. I do not know. For years, the company has resisted measures to prevent global warming, while in-house research in 1986 showed that “some parts of the earth may become uninhabitable.”

In the Netherlands, Shell is doing everything it can to not pay taxes. In the USA, they promote Donald Trump. It may be just me, but I cannot discover anything royal about it.

Shell forces workers to attend Trump rally

This 18 August 2019 CNN TV video from the USA says about itself:

Union workers told to attend Trump speech or lose pay

Workers at the Pennsylvania petrochemical plant where President Donald Trump spoke were told that if they didn’t attend the event, they either had to use paid time off or receive no pay for the day.

The CNN caption to this YouTube video does not mention who owns that Monaca, Pennsylvania petrochemical plant. Which produces plastic. It is Shell oil multinational corporation. Yes, the same Shell that covered up the climate change science which Donald Trump hates so much. The same Shell which wants oil drilling in the oil spill prone Arctic environment. The same Shell which causes very damaging earthquakes with its drilling in Groningen province in the Netherlands and elsewhere. The same Shell which hires thugs in Ireland for violence against local small farmers and other opponents of its environmentally hazardous plans. The same Shell which pollutes Nigeria. The same Shell which bribed Nigerian soldiers and hired thugs for violence against Nigerian environmentalists. The same Shell which profited from George W Bush’s and Tony Blair’s Iraq war. The same Shell advising NATO on neo-colonial and potentially nuclear wars.

Workers were ordered not to protest or show any ‘resistance’ at Trump rally in Pennsylvania: here.

This 17 August 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Pittsburgh plant workers revealed they had to go to Donald Trump’s rally or go without pay

President Trump trashed union leadership at a Shell plant even after management forced its unionized workers to attend one of his hate speeches at their plant, or lose pay.

Trump visited a Shell petrochemical plant in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania this past Tuesday, but today the news slipped out about the coercive methods used to guarantee a larger audience for his maniacal rantings.

This 14 August 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Dozens Protest President Trump‘s Visit to Cracker Plant

Dozens of protestors and some Trump supporters gathered outside the Beaver County Courthouse on Tuesday. KDKA’s Ross Guidotti reports.

Mumia Abu-Jamal’s partial victory

This 13 May 2016 video says about itself:

10th Anniversary: Rue Mumia Abu-Jamal plus Paris May Day

Powerful report of special commemoration of naming of French street after Mumia. Betsey Piettte of IAC refers to slide show (not visible) and also report & video of Paris May Day 2016.

By Fred Mazelis in the USA:

Mumia Abu-Jamal wins right to reargue appeal of his 1982 conviction

5 January 2019

In a significant legal victory for Mumia Abu-Jamal, a ruling by a Pennsylvania Superior Court judge on December 27 gives the long-imprisoned activist and journalist a new chance to appeal his 1982 conviction for the murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. Abu-Jamal, a former Black Panther who spent nearly 30 years on death row before prosecutors agreed in 2011 to a sentence of life imprisonment without parole, has steadfastly maintained his innocence.

Justice Leon Tucker issued a 37-page opinion last week that concluded, as reported by the Associated Press, that former Justice Ronald Castille of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court should have recused himself from a 2012 appeal rejecting Abu-Jamal’s final appeal. Tucker, pointing to numerous statements made by Castille when he was Philadelphia District Attorney between 1986 and 1991, advocating the death penalty in cases of killing of police officers, cited the “appearance of bias”.

At the same time, however, Tucker rejected other arguments presented by Abu-Jamal’s attorneys—that Castille had played a “significant” role, when he was DA, in the appeal of the original conviction, before going on to rule on the appeal as a judge.

Castille had received campaign contributions from the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), which had loudly dismissed all claims that the defendant had not received a fair trial and had pushed for Abu-Jamal’s execution. Tucker relied on a US Supreme Court ruling in 2016 that Castille should have recused himself in a similar case. It was this decision that spurred the latest effort by Abu-Jamal’s attorneys. Tucker, in his opinion, said Abu-Jamal should be given another chance to argue his innocence in front of the state’s high court, now that Castille is no longer a sitting judge.

Abu-Jamal, now 63 years old, has spent well over half his life behind bars after his conviction and sentencing in the 37-year-old case, which Amnesty International, among numerous other advocates and observers, has charged was tainted by unfairness and racial bias.

A national and international campaign has been waged on behalf of Abu-Jamal, who became a focus of attention and opposition to the outrages that characterize the “criminal justice” system in the US, especially in the application of the death penalty. It was reinstated in 1976, part of the rapid shift to the right by the political and judicial authorities after the labor, civil rights and antiwar struggles of the 1960s and the defeat of US imperialism in Vietnam.

The original trial of Abu-Jamal took place in the early years of the Reagan administration, amid a law-and-order frenzy that would soon lead to the highest rate of mass incarceration in the world. Defense attorneys have brought forward evidence of many instances of flagrant misconduct in Abu-Jamal’s case, including an affidavit of a court stenographer that the trial judge in the case, Albert Sabo, had declared, “Yeah, I’m going to help ’em fry the nigger.” Sabo presided over a trial in which important eyewitness testimony was excluded, confessions were fabricated, and the defendant himself was excluded from most trial proceedings.

It was not until 2008 that Abu-Jamal’s original death sentence was thrown out, with an appeals court ruling that found that jury instructions in 1982 had been fundamentally flawed. Abu-Jamal remained on death row, however, after the US Supreme Court overturned the appeals court in 2010. Amidst continuing litigation, prosecutors finally agreed to reduce the penalty to the life sentence several years later.

During his long stretch of imprisonment, Abu-Jamal has continued to write as well as to speak on Prison Radio. He attracted attention with his 1995 book Live From Death Row. His latest book was published in 2017 and has a foreword by well-known journalist Chris Hedges.

Abu-Jamal has also suffered from severe health problems, exacerbated by neglect and inadequate treatment in prison. A recent “Democracy Now” radio program reported that he was diagnosed with hepatitis C and had obtained the necessary treatment only after a successful lawsuit.

The police union, prominently assisted by Maureen Faulkner, the widow of the slain officer, has kept up a vitriolic campaign against Abu-Jamal, and has received bipartisan support in this campaign from the political establishment in Pennsylvania. In 2014 the state legislature went so far as to pass a “revictimization” law, in response to a recorded commencement speech that Abu-Jamal had delivered at a Vermont college. The bill forbade prisoners, even in some cases those not yet convicted, from speaking or acting in ways that would “re-traumatize” victims of crimes. A state judge threw out the law in 2015 as “manifestly unconstitutional.”

Civil rights lawyer David Rudovsky, who worked on an early Abu-Jamal appeal, was quoted by the Associated Press on various elements of the Abu-Jamal case that point to ongoing police and prosecutorial wrongdoing and discrimination.

“The race bias, the judicial bias, the questions of identification and prosecutorial commentary or misconduct—we’re still struggling with them”, said Rudovsky, a University of Pennsylvania law professor.

Abu-Jamal’s attorneys have 30 days within which to file a notice of appeal to reargue his original conviction before the state’s highest court. At the same time, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner must make a decision on whether to appeal Judge Tucker’s decision. Krasner was elected in 2017 as a liberal, promising various criminal justice reforms. He has stopped requiring cash bail for most misdemeanors and nonviolent felony charges.

Pittsburgh synagogue massacre and Donald Trump, by Noam Chomsky

This 31 December 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

Noam Chomsky on Pittsburgh Attack: Revival of Hate Is Encouraged by Trump’s Rhetoric

On October 27th, a gunman stormed the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, killing 11 Jewish worshipers. The massacre has been described as the worst anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history. After the shooting, we spoke with Noam Chomsky, the world-renowned professor, linguist and dissident, about Pittsburgh, Israel’s policies toward Gaza and other recent white supremacist and right-wing attacks in the U.S.

AMERICAN JEWS FEARFUL OF ANTISEMITISM About 88% of American Jews believe anti-Semitism is a problem in the U.S. today, with 38% labeling it a “very serious” problem, according to a national survey. A plurality of respondents (43%) said they believe anti-Semitism in the U.S. has “increased a lot” over the past five years. [HuffPost]

Victims of Pittsburgh, USA synagogue massacre funerals

This 29 October 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

Glenn Greenwald: Violence Like Pittsburgh Shooting Is “Inevitable Outcome” of Racist Scapegoating

The massacre of 11 worshipers at a Pittsburgh synagogue Saturday capped a hate-filled week in America, following the shooting of two African Americans at a Kentucky grocery store by a white man and the arrest of avid Trump supporter Cesar Sayoc for allegedly mailing 13 bombs to CNN and political opponents of President Trump. We speak with Glenn Greenwald, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and one of the founding editors of The Intercept.

By Samuel Davidson in the USA:

Thousands attend funerals for victims of Pittsburgh synagogue massacre

2 November 2018

Thousands of people have been attending the funerals for the victims of the massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh this past Saturday. The outpouring was a sign of popular opposition to that horrific act of anti-Semitic violence and the political climate that contributed to it.

On Tuesday, services were held for Jerry Rabinowitz, 66, of Edgewood, and brothers Cecil, 59, and David Rosenthal, 54, of Squirrel Hill and Daniel Stein, 71, of Squirrel Hill. On Wednesday, thousands of mourners attended three services for Joyce Fienberg, 75, of Oakland, Irving Younger, 69, of Mount Washington, and Melvin Wax, 87, of Squirrel Hill.

On Thursday, services were held for husband and wife Sylvan Simon, 86, and Bernice Simon, 84, of Wilkinsburg, who were both killed in the attack. A separate service was held for Richard Gottfried, 65, of Ross. Gottfried a dentist, worked part of his time in clinics providing free care to refugees and those that couldn’t afford dental care.

Funeral services will be held today for Rose Mallinger, 97, of Squirrel Hill, the oldest of the victims.

The 11 people were shot and killed Saturday while attending morning services at the Tree of Life synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh.

Religious leaders have invited the public throughout the country to attend Solidarity Shabbat services Friday night and Saturday to express their sympathy for the victims and to oppose anti-Semitism. The victims were killed last Saturday while observing the Jewish sabbath or day of rest.

Attorneys for Robert Bowers, 46, the chief suspect in the massacre, entered pleas of not guilty to 44 counts, including 11 counts of murder, for the killing of 11 worshipers at the Tree of Life synagogue. On Wednesday, a federal grand jury in western Pennsylvania indicted Bower on 11 counts of obstruction of free exercise of religious freedom resulting in death, and 11 counts of using a firearm during a crime of violence.

Bowers, who is reportedly a truck driver from nearby Baldwin, is accused of entering the synagogue shortly before 10 am last Saturday carrying an AR-15 assault rifle and 3 handguns and shouting “all Jews must die” as he began shooting.

Social media posts made by Bowers in the weeks and days before the attack make clear that he targeted the synagogue because of work done there in connection with HIAS (formally the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society), which relocates refugees from war-torn Syria, Latin America and throughout the world to the Pittsburgh area. HIAS is the oldest refugee organization in the world, having assisted refugees for more than 130 years.

Just before his bloody assault, Bowers wrote, “HIAS likes to bring invaders in that kill our people. I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.”

The political climate for this rampage has been created by the fascistic speeches of President Donald Trump. In the past few weeks, the president has referred to the caravan of Central American refugees as an army of invaders out to steal jobs, commit crimes and steal social services from native born residents. He also accused Democratic donor George Soros, who is Jewish, of funding the caravan, an accusation that was taken up by far right and fascistic web sites.

These xenophobic rants incited the violence in Pittsburgh and other acts, including the sending of pipe bombs to prominent Democrats and critics of Trump by an avid Trump supporter and the murder of two African-Americans at a grocery store in Kentucky.

“Trump uses language like ‘invaders’ and ‘army’ whenever he is talking about poverty stricken migrants coming from Central America”, Sam, a coal miner from the Pittsburgh area, told the World Socialist Web Site. “This is like music to the ears to mentally ill people like (Bowers). Trump’s rhetoric is reinforcing their illusions that immigrants are responsible for our problems.”

Sam specifically singled out the Democrats for their role. “I don’t know what to say about the Democrats. A few months ago, some of them were saying to get rid of ICE but they quickly dropped that. It’s all politics to them.

“They want to tiptoe around the issue (of immigration). They don’t really care about children being separated from their parents, or people living in poverty being treated like criminals just because they are trying to come to America to have a better life.

“Obama deported more immigrants than anyone else. They have ceded the issue to Trump who sprouts this hatred. For the Democrats the issue is ‘Russian meddling‘ …

“The Democrats are allowing the president to claim that people from Central America or the Middle East are a threat to America. They are giving people who are not doing very well someone to blame for their problems–not the CEOs and corporate executives who are making obscene profits. Immigrants are not the reason the coal companies are giving miners the worst possible health care package, or why the company can draft (forced overtime) a miner to work weekends, or miners are dying from black lung.”

Even as the Pittsburgh funerals were taking place, Trump gave a White House speech Thursday night, once again denouncing the “invasion” of immigrants and accusing those seeking to escape the dire conditions in the Central American countries long ravaged by American imperialism of being human traffickers, drug dealers and violent criminals. The president said he planned to strip migrants of the right to claim asylum if they were inside the US and he gave a greenlight to US troops being sent to the border to shoot children, “if they throw rocks at our military.”

NBC News reported that the president was scheduled to give the provocative speech earlier in the week but postponed it because of the Pittsburgh killings.

When Trump arrived in the city Tuesday, he was met by thousands of demonstrators who protested in Squirrel Hill and other areas of Pittsburgh. About 200 students from the University of Pittsburgh and other universities in the area, hastily gathered outside UPMC hospital when students learned that Trump had gone there to visit wounded police officers.

Jackie, Madison, and Haley, students at University of Pittsburgh, attended the protest. “A lot of people specifically told him not to come here and he came anyway,” noted Jackie.

Madison said that immigrants are “definitely used as a scapegoat for a lot of things that are unfair. I think the way we’ve been handling it as a country is not the right answer. Some of the things that the Trump administration has proposed are inhumane.” Tomika Kinsley, a certified nurse’s assistant said, “Trump shouldn’t have come here when everyone was telling him not to. He promotes hatred and seeks to divide people.”

Pierre Mballa and Gill VauGhn-Spencer, students at Point Park University in downtown Pittsburgh, denounced Trump for creating the climate for the synagogue massacre. Pierre said, “I think we are living in a time when our President is spreading a lot of hate and vitriol. When events like this happen, the two can’t help but be correlated. We have protests when our president is coming and that just shows that people are not supportive of him and what he does.”

Gill added, “It’s sad to see that people are so divided. He is spreading so much hate that even now, when he comes to pay his respects, people hate it, nobody wants him around because he created the situation that allowed this to happen.”

“The people who he is labeling as invaders are people from this continent and South America”, Pierre said. “America is a country made up of immigrants. I am an immigrant. If Trump passes that executive order saying that people born in the United States are not citizens, you are basically going against the fundamentals of what the USA is.”

Workers in other cities also denounced Trump’s anti-immigrant tirade.

A Fiat Chrysler worker from Kokomo, Indiana told the WSWS, “If we go down the road of scapegoating immigrants, all workers will be victimized the same way. The government is ripping families apart and treating people seeking asylum worse than animals. It’s time we wake up and realize that powerful forces are trying to divide us, and we stand up to oppose it.”

An autoworker in Detroit added, “The rich need an external enemy to draw attention away because workers are starting to go after them.”

Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting Suspect Offered To Help White Supremacist Dox A Blogger On Gab. Robert Bowers offered to help League of the South’s Brad Griffin find a more recent address for a blogger who closely tracked white supremacists: here.

ARRESTED NEO-NAZI WAS PROUD OF HIS VIEWS Jeffrey Clark, the 30-year-old man federal agents arrested after he called the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting a “dry run,” wasn’t shy about being a white supremacist. But it was only after his family reported him that authorities arrested him on gun charges. [HuffPost]

Pittsburgh synagogue massacre mourners protest Trump visit

The head of the march against Trump's presence in Pittsburgh

By Samuel Davidson in Pennsylvania, USA:

Thousands protest Trump’s visit to Pittsburgh synagogue following mass shooting

31 October 2018

Thousands of people took part in a protest on Tuesday against the visit of President Donald Trump to the Pittsburgh synagogue where 11 congregants were murdered Saturday morning by a gunman driven by anti-immigrant racism and hatred of Jews.

A social media message by the gunman, Robert Bowers, posted shortly before he walked into the Tree of Life synagogue in the Squirrel Hill section of Pittsburgh and began shooting worshippers at Saturday morning services, made clear that he specifically targeted that synagogue because it participates in an organization helping refugees from Syria and Central America settle in the Pittsburgh area.

The worst ever anti-Semitic attack in US history followed a series of campaign speeches and tweets by Trump attacking the caravan of Central American immigrants heading to the US border as “invaders” and pledging to mobilize the US military to stop them. Trump has combined these fascistic incitements with denunciations of “globalists” and affirmations of his own “nationalism”, along with unsubstantiated charges that the billionaire Jewish Democratic Party backer George Soros is funding the caravan.

The overwhelming sentiment among the more than 5,000 residents of the largely Jewish Squirrel Hill neighborhood who marched on Tuesday, alongside students and opponents of anti-Semitism, racism and the government persecution of immigrants from many different ethnic and national backgrounds, was the conviction that Trump was politically responsible for inciting the murderous actions of Bowers, as well as the wave of mail bombs sent last week by Trump supporter Cesar Sayoc to prominent Democrats and Trump critics.

A large number of students from nearby Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Pittsburgh and local high schools participated in the protest.

The organizers included the Pittsburgh chapter of Bend the Arc, a Jewish organization that issued an open letter to Trump telling him not to come to the city until he had clearly disavowed “white nationalism” and halted his mass incarceration of immigrants. The outpouring of support for the Jewish community and anger against Trump had already by Tuesday morning resulted in some 70,000 people signing their names to the open letter.

Two Muslim-American organizations raised over $150,000 in just over two days to cover the costs of the funerals of all 11 people killed in Saturday’s attack. Funerals for three of the victims were held on Tuesday, including the funeral for 71-year-old Daniel Stein, who had just become a grandfather before he was gunned down by Bowers.

Stein’s family announced that it had declined Trump’s offer to visit with family members. Stephen Halle, Stein’s nephew, denounced Trump’s statement that the synagogue should have had armed guards to protect worshippers. “Everybody feels that [his words] were inappropriate,” he told the Washington Post and other media outlets. “He was blaming the community.”

A section of the Pittsburgh anti-Trump march

While the organizers of the march told participants it was not a political event, the prevailing sentiment and the hand-made signs carried by marchers showed how politically charged it in fact was. Signs directly attacking Trump included: “Trump Apologize for Stoking Hatred or Go Home,” “Hateful Words Incite Hateful Actions,” “Neo-Nazis are Not Very Fine People” and “Trump, You Have Blood on Your Hands.”

Those marching at the head of the protest carried banners declaring that Trump was “not welcome in Pittsburgh” and listing the demands of the open letter.

The outpouring of support for the Jewish community and for immigrants points to the mass opposition in the working class and sections of the middle class to Trump’s far-right policies. At the same time, it highlights the cowardice and complicity of the Democratic Party, which offers no principled opposition to Trump’s attacks on immigrants and democratic rights more broadly.

The Democrats have responded to the Pittsburgh massacre by maintaining their silence on Trump’s threats against the Central American caravan, downplaying his direct political responsibility for the growth of fascist violence, and criticizing him almost exclusively for being a “divider” instead of a “uniter.”

While Trump works to build up an extra-parliamentary movement of the far-right, the Democrats promote the FBI, the CIA and the military as the upholders of stability against “extremists” on both the left and right who “sow divisions.” They are spearheading the drive to censor the internet so as to block the dissemination of progressive, anti-war and socialist views.

A protester holding an anti-Trump placard

Trump’s visit to Pittsburgh was an embarrassing demonstration of his unpopularity. It is hardly an exaggeration to say he stole in and out of the city like a thief in the night.

He made no remarks, gave no speech and did not hold a press conference. His flight touched down in Pittsburgh mid-afternoon and the presidential motorcade made its way to the scene of the massacre, which had been cleared for several blocks around by the police. He was met by Rabbi Jeffrey Myers of Tree of Life and the Israeli ambassador to the US. Accompanying him were his wife Melania, his daughter Ivanka, his son-in-law Jared Kushner and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. He held a brief photo-op and then departed.

Even as Trump laid flowers and placed stones to honor the dead, he could hear the roar of boos from the mass of protesters, kept more than a block away by the police.

The White House had invited congressional leaders of both parties—Mitch McConnell, Charles Schumer, Paul Ryan and Nancy Pelosi—to accompany him to Pittsburgh. All of them declined. Both Pennsylvania senators—Democrat Bob Casey and Republican Pat Toomey—likewise declined the White House invitation.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Puduto and Allegheny County Chief Executive Rich Fitzgerald refused to meet Trump on his arrival in the city.

The World Socialist Web Site spoke to participants in the protest. “I feel that what Trump is doing is taking the hatred and legitimizing it, bringing it into the mainstream”, said Triona, who is from Pittsburgh but currently lives in Philadelphia. “There are a lot of problems and Trump is seeking to scapegoat immigrants, Jews, people of color and minorities”, she added.

Triona and John

“Words matter”, said John, who was with Triona. “He is promoting and encouraging these people.”

“I am against the attack on minorities and immigrants”, continued Triona. “We believe that Trump fosters and creates this kind of climate in which this kind of thing is encouraged. He is a white nationalist and I don’t want him in our city.

“There has always been a subculture of white nationalists, but he definitely has given it a platform and is a leader of it. He is giving it a voice and it is starting to spread. The shooter at the synagogue was doing it because of their support for immigrants and Trump has been attacking them.”

“I feel that Trump is promoting hatred against immigrants and minorities and this encourages these people to commit these acts of violence,” said Buena, a young woman from Pittsburgh. “The politicians don’t represent the people. They are for the rich.”

She continued: “Trump is attacking immigrants, but we are all immigrants, and they are just trying to have a safe place to live and raise their families. They are not invaders or an army.”

Buena Maya

A young unemployed folk singer told the WSWS he agreed with the need for an independent political party. …

“I consider myself more of an anarchist, but I know that the working class has to be in power, they are the majority. I look around and see all of these police and people think they are our friends. I like to tell people their history as coal and iron police from way back. They are not for us.”

Anti-Trump marchers in Pittsburgh

‘President Hate’ Greeted By Protests And Unity In Heartbroken Jewish Pittsburgh, by Aiden Pink, October 30, 2018.

Sarah Silverman Says Trump Has ‘A Starring Role In Our Current Episode Of Domestic Terrorism’. Oct 31, 2018. By Bonnie Azoulay.

Donald Trump, Meet America’s Jews. They Are Protesting Your Hate. By Batya Ungar-Sargon, October 31, 2018.

President Trump slammed protesters who opposed his visit to Pittsburgh after the synagogue mass shooting — and used the trip to bash the media at an election rally in Florida. Trump belittled the protest as “small,” even though thousands marched through the Squirrel Hill neighborhood as he toured the Tree of Life synagogue with his wife and Rabbi Jeffrey Myers Tuesday: here.

The children of a Missouri Republican running for the state General Assembly has called on voters in his district not to vote for him due to his extreme anti-Semitic views: here.

Republican Steve King Condemned By Iowa Jews As ‘Crusader’ For Pittsburgh Shooter’s Racism. October 31, 2018. By JTA: here.

PITTSBURGH OFFICIALS BOYCOTT TRUMP Local officials declined to meet the president, who visited Pittsburgh four days after an anti-Semitic gunman opened fire on a synagogue and killed 11 people. Trump was greeted by protesters, including the Rev. Susan Rothenberg, who shouted, “It’s not about you. Let the families grieve. This is our neighborhood. You are not welcome here!” [HuffPost]

PENCE’S ‘RABBI’ THINKS JEWS ARE GOING TO HELL The Christian “rabbi” who offered a prayer for the weekend’s victims of neo-Nazi terror at a rally with Vice President Mike Pence believes that Jews who do not accept Christ as their savior are condemned to hell. [HuffPost]

HOW GAB RECRUITED RACISTS Gab CEO Andrew Torba claims Pittsburgh synagogue suspect Robert Bowers doesn’t represent his website. But Torba has spent years recruiting racists like the accused killer. [HuffPost]

Pittsburgh Shooting Is A Reminder: Jews And Muslims Are In This Together. By Alex Kane, October 27, 2018: here.

Anti-Semitic massacre in Pittsburgh, USA, mourners speak

Flowers for David and Cecil Rosenthal in Pittsburgh

From the World Socialist Web Site in the USA:

Participants in vigils for Pittsburgh shooting victims speak to the WSWS

I don’t think the Democrats are doing anything to oppose Trump’s message

By our reporters

30 October 2018

In Pittsburgh, a vigil has been ongoing since Sunday outside the Tree of Life Synagogue, where a gunman murdered 11 people Saturday morning. Streams of people came to lay flowers, light candles and leave remarks on the sidewalk and street.

Impromptu vigils have also been held outside the homes of many of the victims, with people stopping to leave flowers, write messages and show their support.

At one such vigil outside the home of Cecil Rosenthal and David Rosenthal, two brothers killed in the attack, Val, a young woman who had left a comment opposing Trump’s hate speech, told the World Socialist Web Site: “Through solidarity we can regain any sense of humanity we had. Hate is not new. It is there because of leaders like Trump who encourages racism in a way that incites hatred and violence towards our brothers and sisters of all faiths, identities, backgrounds, here and all around the world.

“When you have a military or fascist-type leader anywhere in the world, it is a problem for the whole world. They are using the same type of hate speech against people whom they seek to victimize.

“I don’t think the Democrats are doing anything to oppose Trump’s message. I don’t have any confidence in what they are doing. They don’t want to bring up the topics of migrant workers and immigrants and that is what we want. Everyone has to be welcomed.”

Another person at the vigil who didn’t want to leave her name for fear of reprisals said, “I don’t understand how someone could go into a place of love and sanctuary and do so much harm and hate.”

Referring to Trump’s statements, she said: “I definitely think that this country is more divided and that this is fueling hate. I don’t know why this man did this and I don’t want to say why, but Trump is trying to make people hate immigrants and minorities.

“I wholeheartedly support immigrants’ right to come to the United States. People are being forced to flee their home not because they want to, but because of the violence and wars, much of which has been caused by the United States.”

New York City

Coby in New York City

Hundreds of students waited outside the Kimmel Center at New York University to attend a vigil held for victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting.

Coby, who studies film and television at NYU, said, “It is really a sad thing that someone could do this because of someone’s religion. To hear that one of the victims was a Holocaust survivor especially affected me.”


Anesa, an NYU student majoring in cultural studies, said, “I am going to the vigil because it is everyone’s responsibility to stand up and condemn white supremacist violence. It is sad to hear about all the communities that suffer from this violence and expect it but feel powerless to stop it.

“Looking at how our country is being run, the elections in Brazil, and the violence around the world is alarming. There are not really places people can go to feel safe.”


A participant in a Detroit vigil said, “It’s not just American society where this is happening. Brazil just elected a fascist. Germany is struggling with neo-Nazis in their government.

“We all have the same history. A hundred years ago, it was anti-Catholic because we didn’t have Latinos then. The capitalists will do it to anybody. White people were forced into the coal mines and their children were used as labor. It’s not about race.

“Dan Gilbert [CEO of Quicken Loans] got $600 million to fix downtown Detroit, but they say there’s no money for schools. Yet all the city officials who helped him are Democrats and blacks. While we are fighting each other according to race, they stuff money in their pockets.”

“Why should I be afraid of some caravan?”

I want to mourn with all of my beloved Jewish people, but as the Israeli Right exploits this tragedy for their political gain, aided by their apologists in the American Jewish establishment, it is clear that even in our mourning, we are divided. By Simone Zimmerman.

On Day Of Mourning, Jewish Pittsburgh Braces For Divisive Trump, by Josh Nathan-Kazis, October 30, 2018.

Trump Is Using Ivanka As A Prop To Whitewash Anti-Semitism, by Molly Jong-Fast, October 30, 2018.

Killings at Kentucky store were hate crime, police say. Jeffersontown Police Chief Sam Rogers visited the First Baptist Church Sunday to tell the congregation that the gunman who attempted to attack the black church last week and then went on a shooting rampage at a nearby Kroger store was a white racist: here.